Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mr Officer, arrest me...I am a criminal

I am a drug user. The law requires a fine and jail time, and in the interest of solidarity with my fellow druggies, I'm asking the law to come and get me. Now. Before more time lapses.

My story is an old one. Weak will. Peer pressure. Low self esteem. A comely woman. How many have gone down this path that led to fines, jail, embarrassment, and a failed life? Millions. No matter how I try to dress it up, I am one of them. The veneer of respectability is a lie.

It began during my college years. My roommate sold drugs, mostly pot, to friends and acquaintances to help fund his education. He would buy large wafers of pot from a supplier, then spend hours carefully weighing out one ounce bags for sale. Despite being a drug kingpin in our dorm, he was scrupulously honest with his weights and measures. After all, his reputation, such as it was, depended on it.

I did not smoke during college. My roommate and the guys next door threatened violence on me to get me hooked (they would look at me a little askew as they took hits from the bong, then through the clenched teeth of carefully controlled exhaling they would say that, dude, we ought to put a bag on your head and pipe it in. Then they would giggle. OK, maybe it wasn't real violence they were talking about, but technically....) My roommate even tried to grow some pot in the room, but I was not careful about who I let in and I was afraid that some maintenance workers saw the plants. So I helped hide the plants all over the dorm until the danger of arrest had passed. That was the beginning of my long slide down the path of law breaking.

(As a footnote, I would mention that just because my old roommate and the guys next door survived their pot addiction and their raging hormones to become a CPA, a doctor, and a dentist, does not excuse them for breaking the law. After all, the law was the only thing between them and the gutter.)

When I quit college, I dated a girl in my hometown who popped pills. I can't say what kind, nor can I say that I knew when she used them because I really couldn't tell any difference in her behavior. When my old college roommate came to visit, she and he hit it off right away, and soon the conversation turned to getting high on a little weed. None of us had papers to roll joints, and I did not have a bong, of course, so I was taught the finer points of creating a "shotgun" out of an empty soda can. At least I think it was soda. Maybe it was beer. I don't remember exactly.

My old roommate and my girlfriend traded hits on the soda-beer-can-shotgun until I felt they were getting a little too close and I was feeling like an uncool dweeb. So I took my first hit. Suddenly, I was one of them. I took more hits (one? two? I don't remember) before the small stash of pot was burned up. No cares; my girlfriend liked me again. My roommate thought I had gained some cool.

I was an official druggie. I had inhaled, held in the smoke to maximize the effects, and went back for more. I can't say that I got high that day, nor did I particularly like the taste the pot left in my mouth, but I very much liked the fact that I was liked. It was a pattern I would repeat.

A few months later, at a party in the next door apartment, a joint was passed around and when it got to me I sucked on it. My fellow partiers ooooooh'ed and aaaaaaah'ed, and in their low-key-mellowed-out way they applauded me. Even the man of the house, who was a cop in real life, smiled a little. He didn't smoke. Those days were behind him, and besides, smoking dope could end his career. Nevertheless, as an ex-druggie, he did not arrest kids for having pot. He would confiscate it, then dump it on the ground. He would give them a little warning about the law and the likelihood that some other cop would not do as he had done, then send them on their way. No record of the stop. No punishment. He was the personification of graft and corruption in the local police department.

I continued down the path of drug dependence by becoming a groupie for a rock band made up of old high school buddies, one of whom, the lead singer, made no secret of liking her pot. Once, during a break between sets, the woman and I went out to her Subaru parked behind the bar and lit up a joint. I remember being paranoid of being discovered, since it was a very public place. She, however, was calm and cool. She thought I was, too, since the last time she'd seen me was when I was an uptight dork in high school in buttoned down shirts and plaid polyester dress pants. I liked that she liked the new me. I didn't much like the paranoia, however. Sadly, my friend, the lead singer, died of cancer a couple of years later. I must be truely twisted because I cannot help forever treasuring that moment in her car, sharing a joint.

That is my story. I never touched the stuff again, not because I had learned to reform my scofflaw ways, but because I didn't see much point to it. My experimentation was over. I had other things to do, like make some money, go back to college, and get a career going. I had been a late bloomer my entire life, but my time had finally come.

My use of pot ended around 1980. I can't remember exactly, since those years were stewed in alcohol. The legal drinking age was 18 at that time, so that's one thing the cops can't bust me for.

I am tired of living the lie. Bust me. I need to atone for my wicked druggie ways. Then maybe I won't feel bad for the 800,000 people who get busted, booked, charged, and punished every year for what I got away with scot-free.

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